Blood clots contribute to serious conditions such as pulmonary embolism, heart attack, stroke, clotting in the legs or death and blood thinning medications are often prescribed to break up existing clots and to prevent the formation of others in the future. The downside is that medications such as Coumadin and Heparin have potentially fatal side effects if they are not prescribed or administered properly. Pharmaceutical companies are required to warn patients of any risks associated with their medications and many of the side effects associated with blood thinning medications are understated or concealed. The only way to elicit change is to hold these companies accountable when their products become the cause of injury or wrongful death.
Causes of Blood Thinner Misuse or Abuse
One of the primary causes of injurious side effects related to blood thinning medications is overdose but drug interactions and poor blood monitoring may also contribute to excessive bleeding or exacerbate the condition. The ways in which Coumadin, Heparin and similar medications can cause harm include the following.
- Prescribing an incorrect dosage— overdosing on blood thinning medication can result in severe bleeding throughout the body or in the heart or brain.
- Improper labeling of medication— in some cases, patients have received prescriptions that were three times as potent as listed on the actual pill. It doesn’t take long for an error like this to cause severe complications or fatal events.
- Drug interactions— blood thinners may react adversely with other medications but doctors often fail to educate their patients on the effects of diet on drug interactions. Certain foods act as natural blood thinners and when combined with blood thinning medication, may increase their potency and effect. Understanding what foods and medications to avoid are extremely important when taking blood thinning medications and patients have not been receiving the education needed to prevent unintended interactions.
- Human error when administering medication— nurses or staff members tasked with giving medication to patients may misread instructions or administer an incorrect dosage, placing the patient at risk of an adverse event.
- Insufficient blood monitoring— excessive bleeding can be life-threatening so it is important that doctors test any patient’s blood on a regular basis if he or she is taking blood thinners in order to ensure that the patient is not at risk of a severe bleed and to adjust the dosage of medication prescribed if needed. This is often considered an inconvenience, but it may alert a doctor to a potential problem early enough to save patients’ lives.
Determining Liability in a Coumadin Error Case Involving a Nursing Home or Hospital
When a victim suffers from adverse effects of blood thinner use, it is important to determine the cause of his or her injuries in order to demand accountability from the right parties. As complications can be the result of numerous human or manufactural errors, it is important first to understand the events as they unfolded in order to build a solid case. It is important to collect any records that you can that would document when your doctor prescribed your medication, the dosage prescribed and who administered the dosage or filled the prescription as these records can trace the series of events preceding your injury.
Coumadin and Heparin Malpractice Awards
$1,800,000 Settlement; Coumadin and Heparin Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
This case escalated from a common accident to a serious medical condition in short order. The patient was a woman. She was thirty-four. From some unknown cause, she slipped and fell. That accident caused an injury to her knee and popliteal artery. The surgeon did not fix that issue in a prompt manner. Plus, her primary doctor did not notice her allergic reaction to Heparin. Heparin thins the blood and is commonly prescribed in these circumstances. The complication caused frequent blood clotting. To correct that side effect, doctors needed to amputate her leg above the knee. She sued the doctors involved for these developments. She received $1.8 million in settlement. That figure represents her enormous damages including pain, disfigurement, lost normal life as well as medical bills which totaled over $600,000.
$950,000 Settlement; Coumadin and Heparin Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
The person at the center of this dispute was a fifty-five-year-old man. Just prior to these events, he suffered a stroke. He entered a facility for treatment and rehab. While staying there, thrombosis in his leg developed and that had an effect on his lungs. The result was another strike that took his life. Lawyers for his estate argued that the staff should have recognized and prevented these developments. The defendants replied that they offered him heparin, but he refused. Also, they suggested that the thrombosis and subsequent stroke could have occurred from other sources beyond their control. The plaintiffs responded to these comebacks with the allegation that something should have been substituted for heparin if it was refused. Eventually, this fact-intensive matter was ended privately rather than by a jury. The defendant facility offered $750,000 to settle and the defendant doctor offered $200,000 to settle. The plaintiffs agreed and recovered $950,000.
$130,000 Settlement; Coumadin and Heparin Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
The patient here had several pre-existing issues including blood pressure and smoking. Also, despite his young age (53), he had already suffered a stroke. Doctors put him on a series of medications. Part of that regimen include antiplatelet prescriptions. It did not involve Coumadin. This omission led to two blot clots and a subsequent stroke. That stroke left him debilitated and without any adult mental capacity. Lawyers for the family stated that this prescription error stemmed from an incorrect assessment of the original stroke. Doctors thought it was venous; however, it was actually caused by an arterial blockage. The defendants chose to settle out of court. The plaintiffs received $130,000. That low figure might be due to the man’s extremely poor health before these events.
$1,169,000 Verdict; Coumadin and Heparin Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
In this case, a woman entered a nursing home after falling and breaking her ankle. She was eighty at the time. Her medical history showed a stroke as well as atrial fibrillation. She was put on Coumadin for that. However, while at the nursing home, a new doctor was worried about her thin blood and the possibility for a hemorrhage. He decided to take her off the Coumadin. Despite signs that this could lead to a stroke, he never put her back on it. Eventually, she had an embolic stroke. The experience left her with memory loss, speech difficulty, bladder disorders, and immobility. She sued the doctors and facility. The lawsuit argued they were negligent for failing to put her back on Coumadin. She claimed damages for pain, lost normal life, and medical bills (over $400,000 in fact) among other things. The defendants would not settle. They replied that Coumadin did not cause the stroke. They thought her other medical problems were the factor. Yet, a jury declined this defense. It awarded her over $1 million for her economic and non-economic damages.
Speak With Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today to Find out What Recovery You may get!
The Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are a leading nursing home negligence and medical malpractice law firm in Chicago, Illinois that is dedicated to representing the interests of those who have suffered needlessly because of corporate greed or the misdeeds of others. If you have experienced excessive bleeding, heart attack, stroke, bleeding in the brain, brain damage or watched a loved one pass in an untimely manner due to the use of blood thinners such as Coumadin and Heparin, contact us today to learn more about your rights and legal options. We will evaluate the details of your case and investigate the matter more deeply in order to determine whether you should pursue legal action in order to recover compensation. If we are unable to assist you or fail to collect compensation for you, our time and services will cost you nothing.